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updated: 8/30/2014 6:28 PM

Pitch-perfect defense powers St. Charles North past Elk Grove

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By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Brendan Joyce and Jake Spaniol went long relief while Kyle Novotney came on to help with a save as St. Charles North stopped Elk Grove 13-2 Saturday afternoon -- in football, to be clear -- in order to complete a game that began Friday night but was halted after the first quarter because of lightning.

As play resumed Saturday afternoon at the start of the second quarter, St. Charles North led 6-0 thanks to an 85-yard kickoff return on the game's opening kickoff by Nathan Didier.

"We talked to our kids about being consistent," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "We came in and treated this like it was a whole new game. We got spotted 6 points, so that helped."

Defense dominated on Saturday, with Joyce and Saniol coming up with huge plays and each coming down with an interception. Novotney helped put the game away when he scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 1:51 to play.

"It was really tough coming out here to play today after a rain delay," said Novotney, who rushed for 43 yards and threw for 97 more. "It was a long delay, but we came back ready to play. We drove the ball down the field a few times, but just couldn't score. Our defense played great and I was able to get into the end zone at the end."

St. Charles North employed a bend-but-don't-break defense. Led Brendan McCarthy, Colin Leivrow, Dalton Young and Ben Thiele, the North Stars held Elk Grove to 125 yards of total offense.

Elk Grove did mount a drive late in the third quarter. The Grenadiers moved from their own 30 to the St. Charles 20. But that's where Joyce and Spaniol came up with big plays.

Joyce made one of them in the end zone, knocking the ball away from an Elk Grove receiver. On the next two plays, Spaniol broke up a pass and then came up with a huge tackle at the 16-yard line to end the threat.

"Our defense just fights and scraps," Spaniol said. "Our guys up front did their jobs and let us make some plays."

Elk Grove used field position to put some points on the board. After a running play, Brian Keegan came up with a sack to move the ball back to the 10. On the next play, Elk Grove's Matt Wary tackled Novotney in the end zone as the Grens closed to 6-2 with 1:21 left in the third quarter.

Elk Grove had an opportunity to get back into the game midway through the fourth quarter.

After a fumbled snap on the punt, Malko Odishoo tackled the North Stars' punter for a 13-yard loss at midfield. But two plays later, Joyce stepped in front of an Elk Grove interception for a quick momentum-reverser.

"The receiver I was covering did a comeback," Joyce said. "And he kept closer and I saw the quarterback rolling out. It looked like he was going to run the ball, but I stayed stuck to my receiver and for some reason he threw to him. He didn't see me, so I got the pick."

Elk Grove coach Larry Calhoun was pleased by the way his defense, led by Wary, Dan Dalenberg, Odishoo, Sean Oldenburg, Keegan and Brandon Post, performed.

The Grens defenders came up with a huge stop in the second quarter. St. Charles North drove to the Grens 6, when Oldenburg recovered a fumble in the end zone. The play was costly, however, as Post broke his right arm and had to be transported to the hospital.

"Our defense played real well today," Calhoun said. "We just left them on the field too much. Offensively, we have some growing to do."

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